Category Archives: Watchman Warnings

The Spirits of Truth and Error

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“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6)

Here we are given assurance that we will be able to tell the difference in people by the way they respond to the Word of God. The emphasis is on the believer’s ability to discern a spirit (attitude or character) of truth or error among those to whom we witness.

This is important because we are told not to cast “pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6) and to “shake off the very dust” from our feet against those who will not receive our witness (Luke 9:5).

Others disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness when they are really the ministers of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). How can we tell which is which?

The spirit of truth is relatively easy to discern. Those who hear the Word (Mark 4:18-20) and receive the Word with all readiness of mind (Acts 17:11) are of the truth (John 18:37). Such people come willingly to the light (John 3:21) and ask for a “reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

The spirit of error can be more difficult to discern. Its source is Satan (John 8:44), who deceives (Revelation 12:9) and uses his servants to manipulate and mislead (Ephesians 4:14).

Some of these run among God’s family and live “in error” (2 Peter 2:18). They can be fruitless trees and “raging waves . . . foaming out their own shame” (Jude 12-13), or like “tares” among the wheat that even the angels have trouble recognizing (Matthew 13:38-40). These won’t listen to truth.

Our job is to be ready to give the answer to the one and to reject the other. HMM III

Destroy Them, O Lord

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“Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.” (Psalm 5:10)

No less than 20 of the psalms contain what are known as “imprecations” — that is, prayers to God to judge and destroy the wicked — and this verse is the first of them. As such, it sets the pattern, helping us to understand why the Lord would include such vindictive prayers in His inspired Word. At first, they seem incongruous with a God of love and mercy who has told us to love our enemies, but they help us to understand that God also must judge sin — especially the sin of rebellion. In them, we are taught to see the sin of rebellion in its true light — through the eyes of a loving Creator who has been rejected to the point of no return.

It is one thing to commit an act of wickedness when overcome by temptation; it is quite another thing for men to deliberately rebel against God Himself, seeking by their “counsels” to turn others against Him, and even, if it were possible, to destroy Him and His Word altogether.

This is the age-long sin of Satan, as well as that of the leaders of both ancient paganism and modern evolutionary humanism.

Like the psalmist David, we must pray for God to defeat them and their counsels, for otherwise they will continue to lead multitudes of others into their own transgression.

There is still room for forgiveness of individual sinners, of course — even among such as these — if they come in true repentance, but most such rebels are already irrevocably hardened against God and His Word. The appropriate prayer in such a case is (as David prayed in another of the imprecatory psalms):

“Scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield. . . . let them even be taken in their pride” (Psalm 59:11-12). HMM

Our Adversary, the Devil

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“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

This grave warning concerning the devil was given not only to young Christians, easily subject to temptations, but also to “the elders which are among you” (v. 1). It often seems, in fact, that Satan’s greatest victories are won when he can cause the fall of a Christian leader, thereby not only destroying that leader’s influence for Christ, but also giving “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14). The devil is a roaring lion, but he doesn’t come as such. If he did, the intended victim would flee.

He is, above all, the one “which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), “transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). As he did with Mother Eve, the “subtle” one will insidiously appeal to our pride, or our aesthetic sense, or our appetite, or our desire for material things.

Peter could speak from bitter experience. Satan had desired to “sift you as wheat,” Jesus had told him, but he foolishly boasted that he would stand true (Luke 22:31-34).

No wonder Peter could warn with such urgency: “Be sober, be vigilant.” Note particularly that, in the context, he is especially warning against greed (1 Peter 5:2) and pride (vv. 5-6). We must not allow Satan to “get an advantage of us,” Paul says, “for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Though Satan is deceptive and powerful, we need never fall to his tempting if we simply—along with staying sober and vigilant—“submit [ourselves] therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). HMM

Do Not Add to God’s Word

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“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18)

This very sober warning right at the end of the Bible was given by Christ Himself (note verse 20) to indicate that the written Scriptures were now complete, and it would be a serious sin for some pseudo-prophet to come along presenting some alleged new revelation from God. That this warning applies to the entire Bible, not just to the book of Revelation, should be obvious but is made especially clear when it is remembered that Jesus promised His chosen disciples that the Holy Spirit “shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance,” and furthermore, that “he will guide you into all truth: . . . and he will shew you things to come” (John 14:26; 16:13).

This special revelation to the “apostles and prophets” of the New Testament would constitute the “foundation” of the church, and would be complete when the last of these “holy apostles and prophets” were gone. (Study carefully Ephesians 2:19–3:11.) When John completed the Apocalypse, he was very old; all the other apostles and prophets of the New Testament had already died (all by martyrdom), so God’s written Word was now complete. No new revelation would be needed before Christ returns. We shall do well if we just learn what we already have received from His holy apostles and prophets.

Note also the emphasis on “the words,” not just the concepts. God was able to say what He meant, and we are wise if we take His words literally. Jesus warned about “false prophets” who would come after He left (Matthew 24:24), and there have been many of these through the centuries. The Bible as we now have it is sufficient for every need. HMM

Spirit of Anti-Christ

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“And this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:3)

The four passages in the New Testament that use this term are unique to the apostle John (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). The term itself is a transliteration of the Greek compound word anti plus christos, meaning one who is “against” Christ.

John distinguishes between “the” Antichrist (1 John 2:18) and the “many” antichrists against whom we are continually fighting today.

“And this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:3)

Although a sincere Christian should be aware of the Antichrist (the “man of sin” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10), far more caution is urged to identify and fight the spirit of antichrist that is already here!

To begin with, it should be noted that there is no specific word for “spirit” in 1 John 4:3. The English word is supplied by the translators to clarify the obvious meaning of the text, that it is the attitude or character of antichrist of which we are to be wary. Those who have this spirit are liars (1 John 2:22), mainly because they refuse to accept the truth that Jesus is the Christ.

Further rejection of that truth centers around denial of the incarnation of Christ, that Jesus is the Creator God come in human flesh (1 John 4:3 and 2 John 1:7). Those who would deny that truth embrace the very core of all lies and become anti Christ.

Such persons are like the thief and the robber who harm the sheep (John 10:1), embrace another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), and teach other doctrines (1 Timothy 1:3-7).

From such as these we are to turn away (2 Timothy 3:5). HMM III

The Integrity of the Written Word

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“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)

In addition to the numerous times when the writers of the Bible asserted that what they wrote came directly from God (e.g., Leviticus 1:1; Jeremiah 1:4; Revelation 1:1), there are at least four warnings against tampering with these revealed words.

The first is our text above, in which Moses commanded neither to add to nor diminish from anything he had written. This warning was supplemented later with the following: “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32).

Moses was the first writer of the Bible and it was appropriate that he should give such a warning. The last was John, and his warning was even more severe, at the very end of the whole body of Scripture. “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life” (Revelation 22:18-19).

Since John was the last apostle, it is clear that this warning is against any later attempt to add some new “revelation” to the now-complete Word of God.

Then, very near the middle of the Bible, there is this: “Every word of God is pure: . . . Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6). And remember also the words of Christ: “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). So don’t mess with the Word of God! HMM

Many False Prophets

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“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

There is an unusual emphasis in the New Testament about false prophets. The Greek word pseudoprophetes appears 11 times and has no corresponding word in the Old Testament.

Of the 298 usages of “prophet” in the Hebrew Scriptures, eight of them are connected to “false” prophets, and only in relation to visions and dreams. In the New Testament, the pseudoprophetes are workers of “miracles” and “signs and wonders.”

John gives the warning to “try the spirits” because many false prophets are now here. Prior to Christ’s coming, the false “dreamer” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) would readily be exposed when his prophecy did not come about. Such a false prophet was to be executed!

But the prophets of the “last time” (1 John 2:18) will perform great wonders (Matthew 24:24) and can “seduce . . . even the elect” (Mark 13:22).

Here’s the problem: They come from among Christians! Peter warns us in 2 Peter 2:1-3 in five ways:

• They come from a “Christian” background.
• They deny the biblical Lord Jesus in some way.
• They will become very popular, especially with emotionally motivated people.
• They will degrade doctrines of the Bible.
• They will stimulate greed to attract followers.

We are warned to test every one of them, and when they do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, we are to reject their teaching and not have any fellowship with them (2 John 1:9-11). They are dangerous (Matthew 7:15)! HMM III

Where is Jesus Now?

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“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” (Matthew 24:26)

The above warning was given by Christ in His famous Olivet discourse about His future second coming, right after He had predicted that many “false Christs” would first come, deceiving many (v. 24). That prediction has been fulfilled many times during the following centuries, but He Himself has not yet returned, in spite of the claims of these latter days.

However, His present location is no secret. After His resurrection and final instructions to His disciples, “he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). We must remember that He arose bodily from the grave, then ascended bodily to God’s throne, and that “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven” (Acts 1:11), will return. Until He returns, therefore, He is seated bodily at the right hand of the presence of the triune God in heaven. In fact, there are no less than 21 references in the Bible to the Lord Jesus now being at the right hand of God.

It is not strictly correct to say or sing that Jesus can come into our hearts, unless it is clearly understood that He is there symbolically in the presence of the indwelling Spirit of Christ. In this way, “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts” (Galatians 4:6) so that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17).

In the physical sense, however, the Lord Jesus Christ, still in His physical, but now immortal, body, is at “the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3) and will remain there until He returns physically back to fulfill all the remaining promises in the Scriptures and to establish the kingdom for which He created us. HMM

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